Microsoft Adds Content Labeling for Webmasters

Gretchen Gallen
REDMOND, Wash. – Software king Microsoft Corp. has partnered with the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) to develop an add-on to its popular Office FrontPage web design software.

The purpose of the ad-on, according to Microsoft's FrontPage Product Manager Erik Rucker, is to enable webmasters to label their websites using ICRA's labeling system, which is partly designed to protect the interests of children and their parents surfing the web.

Established by Microsoft in 1999 as part of its effort to protect children and free speech, ICRA develops international voluntary self-labeling systems that provide Internet users worldwide with the choice of limiting access to content they consider harmful.

The idea behind implementing the labeling system is to give parents more control when it comes to protecting their children from adult web content, Microsoft stated. The ICRA labeling system works with a variety of content-filtering tools.

The content rating add-on is available for free to users of FrontPage 2003.

Once installed, the add-on takes webmasters to the ICRA website where they can fill out a short questionnaire about the content on their site. The ICRA site then generates a short piece of code that webmasters can affix to their web page using the FrontPage add-on. The code, according to Microsoft, enables browser filters to identify the site's content label and then automatically block it.

"IRCA and its director, Mary Lou Kenny, have worked for a long time to protect children on the Internet," Joan Irvine, executive director of Adult Sites Against Child Pornography, told XBiz. "Many adult sites are members of ICRA and use their rating system. ICRA works both with adult and mainstream companies to develop their system. It is important for the adult site industry to be aware of this content rating and filtering tools."

According to ICRA, its labeling system is based on the former Recreational Software Advisory Council’s content rating system that was put together based on contributions from some of the tech sector's leading figures and academics.

"This enables web authors to have their FrontPage sites be viewed and recognised by Internet browsers that have been set to block unlabeled sites, while respecting people’s right to choose what kind of content they want to see when they go online,” Rucker stated.

The new add-on announcement came out of Microsoft's Europe, Middle East and Africa unit, which has been in operation since 1982.

“Just as being an Approved Member of ASACP is a statement to surfers, government agencies and law enforcement that adult entertainment is by and for adults, working with an association like ICRA demonstrates the ongoing effort of the adult site industry to protect children," Irvine continued.